Election Priorities

  1. No wars
  2. No “open borders;” decrease low-IQ immigration in favor of high-IQ immigration
  3. Decrease paperwork/bureaucracy/over-legalization/unnecessary government (or civil) intrusions into people’s lives

1 & 3 have been priorities for approximately forever; on point 2, I’ve changed over the past decade from favoring the libertarian position of fully open borders to favoring the “Hive Mind” hypothesis that the nation’s well-being depends on our % of smart people.

Number 3 may require explanation–there is just a tremendous amount of overhead gumming up everything. I think small business owners get this–every new regulation ends up being yet another hour they devote to paperwork instead of business. The net result is that regulations are, effectively, a form of taxation–a tax on time and ability to act.

I don’t think the general impression that it is nigh-impossible to get stuff done these days is just an illusion.

Imagine, for a moment, running a small business in the late 1800s. There were no payroll taxes, no insurance requirements, no pensions to keep track of, no deductions, no environmental impact surveys, no chance of getting sued over the ethnic/gender composition of your workforce, far fewer licensing requirements, etc.

Not that I want to die in a fire or from drinking polluted, feces-laden water, but there is a cost-benefit tradeoff to every regulation.

The Empire State Building, for example, was built in little more than a year, between January 22, 1930 and April 11, 1931. Wikipedia does not tell how much time–if any–was spent getting building permits prior to construction, but does note that the architectural plans were drawn up in two weeks.

By contrast, after the 9-11 attacks, folks began drawing up architectural plans for the new WTC building in 2002 and finally finished their plans, 3 years later, in 2005. Construction began a year later, in 2006, and finished in 2013. Tenants were finally allowed to move in yet another year later, in 2014–a mere 12 years after the project began.

The WTC cost an estimated 3.9 billion, or about $1,500 per square foot (in 2007). The Empire State Building cost $637,172,100 in 2016 dollars, or $283 per square foot. (Assuming square footage is calculated the same way for both buildings.)

On the plus side, it looks like no one died in the construction of the new WTC, whereas 5 people died building the ESB (though it looks like two people almost died and had to be rescued by the fire department.)

In a more mundane example, we frequent a local park with a new playground and a lovely, unoccupied restaurant building. It has stood unoccupied for several years, ever since the park opened. Every day hundreds of children and their parents play here; all summer thirsty children and their parents would love to buy lemonade and hot dogs and snow cones, but no one sells them.

Finally an enterprising Mexican appeared with a cart, selling corn on the cob and lemonade. Why corn? I don’t know, but it was good corn. Did he have a license? Was he legally allowed to have his cart there? Probably not; he disappeared after a couple of months.

Now there is no one selling lemonade; the restaurant is still empty.

The legal/judicial system is horribly inefficient. Consider the time, expense, and stress endured by a person falsely accused of wrongdoing in attempting to establish their innocence. False accusations should not destroy innocent people’s lives, but they do.

A female acquaintance of mine was accused of domestic violence and arrested by the police. The whole matter was bogus and the police dropped the case without even going to trial, but in the meanwhile she lost her job, was evicted from her apartment, lost numerous friends, had to spend a tremendous amount of money (and time) dealing with the case, and faced the possibility of actually going to prison. Basically, it ruined her life.

A friend who had started a small tech company was sued by a much larger company for patent infringement. The friend won the case, because none of the tech they used had anything to do with the patents in question, but the expense (and time they had to spend on it,) nearly destroyed the company.

The average person has neither the skills nor the expertise to defend themselves in a patent case; they must hire a lawyer, and lawyers aren’t cheap. Larger corporations can afford to throw bogus IP infringement cases at smaller companies until the cows come home or the smaller companies are driven out of business–obviously not how we want free-market economic competition to work.

As for #1: I don’t want to die in Syria. I don’t want my friends or relatives to die in Syria. I don’t want other Americans to die in Syria.

I also don’t want to die fighting Russia.

Soviet atomic bomb, 1951
Soviet atomic bomb, 1951

I suspect the chance of war is, from lowest to highest:

Sanders < Clinton < Trump < other Republicans

Trump has a belligerent personality, which makes me worry that he’d start or get involved in a war, but from what I’ve seen so far of the debates, he is ironically less inclined to get into a war than the other Republican candidates.

My impression of Open Borders sentiment:

Trump < other Republicans < Sanders < Clinton

Trump’s plan to build a wall seems a bit 30 years too late if you’re worried about Mexican immigration, (and enforcement might cost more than the migrants, anyway,) but Clinton and Sanders seem likely to greatly expand low-IQ immigration.

Nobody campaigns on an anti-paperwork platform, but Trump seems like the kind of guy who’d hate regulations on businesses.

I decided this was more cheerful than a picture of the Vietnam Memoorial
How TVA flattens a flood

The Democrats have the good luck to have two candidates they can feel truly enthusiastic about–Hillary as the first serious female presidential candidate; Sanders as the first Socialist. After all, when’s the last time you heard someone say, “I’m a Democrat, but I don’t believe in female empowerment/expanding social programs to help the poor”?

Republicans, by contrast, are amusingly divided over Trump. Sure, he’s the front-runner (as of when I wrote this,) with a fairly sizeable lead over the other candidates. And Trump’s supporters tend to be very enthusiastic, which is a good thing for getting your votes to actually make it to the polls come election day.

But the Republican leadership appears to be losing its shit over the matter.

It’s Time for an Anti-Trump Manhattan Project:

If the Trump contingent should succeed in this endeavor, the party would not emerge refreshed or improved; it would be summarily returned to where it was languishing back in early 2009. And if that should happen? Well, suffice it to say that it would be an unmitigated, unalloyed, potentially unsalvageable disaster. For the first time in years, the Right’s defenses would be completely destroyed, perhaps never to be rebuilt. …
Now is the time to throw everything at Trump, and to stop this disaster in its tracks. Will our children wonder why we were so reluctant?
Incidentally, when I say “everything,” I really do mean everything. Tomorrow night, as they stand on either side of Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz must find their resolve and all-but-machine-gun the man to the floor.
I feel like the author needs a reassuring pat on the head. Don’t worry, your children really won’t care who you voted for in the primaries when they were five.

Donors Ask Independent Consulting Firm to Research 3rd-Party Bid:

A group of Republicans is moving quickly to research ballot-access requirements for independent candidates in case Trump wraps up the GOP nomination next month.

Sure, Trump is loud and rude and disreputable, but more importantly, he came out of nowhere to upset the Republican front-runners simply by loudly opposing illegal immigration from Mexico.

Speaking naively, the odd thing is not that Trump opposes illegal immigration, (which is, after all, illegal because people oppose it,) but that no one else was making it a prominent part of their platforms. But in retrospect, in a field where the establishment darlings were Cruz, Rubio, and Jeb–two Hispanics and one guy married to an Hispanic–it seems clear that the Republican elites had decided on a strategy of courting Hispanics.

After all, if Dems have black voters, why shouldn’t Repubs have Hispanics? Hispanics are 17% of the population (compared to Blacks at 12 or 13%)–nothing to sneeze at, demographically.

The problem with this strategy is that while liberal whites may get excited about the prospect of voting for a suitable black or female president, conservative whites aren’t excited about the prospect of voting for the nation’s first Hispanic. The Hispanic Vote might “save” the Republican party by helping it to victory in future elections, but conservative whites care more about their own self-interest than the continued existence of a particular political organization. Let it go the way of the Whigs; life will go on regardless.

The Republican field before Trump entered the race was almost shockingly dull and uninteresting–not good for winning. While I have nothing against (or for) Jeb as a person, who in their right mind would consider him for president? Is the party so lacking in leadership and foresight that the best they can come up with is literally the little brother of the previous Republican president and son of the Repub. before that? No, a good leader should go to waste just because other members of his family were also talented, but there are a great many positions besides president in which a truly talented person can serve his country–Secretary of State, Attorney General, Supreme Court Justice, governor, etc.

That people find the Trump’s success at all surprising is, well, strange. What, Republican voters aren’t keen on illegal immigration? I am shocked, absolutely shocked! It is like discovering that Democrats think that Black Lives Matter. What else shall we learn, that Libertarians favor individual freedom?

The Republican leadership is in direct opposition to its own base. The leaders want to promote their pro-Hispanic strategy; the base is anti-immigration. Hypothetically, Hispanic voters who are legally in the country might resent people who break the law to do what they jumped through hoops and worked to do legally, but as a practical matter:

  1. People who oppose illegal immigration often oppose legal immigration;
  2. People who oppose illegal immigration are often opposed to Hispanic migrants in general;
  3. Hispanics immigrants may simply desire more Hispanic immigration, without caring about the legal details.

All of which makes the Trump campaign potentially problematic for the Republican elites.

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6 thoughts on “Election Priorities

  1. I agree with a lot of this, or at least your empirical analysis of things (you know I disagree with #2). Just some notes:

    1. Slow trials are agonizing of course, but I think they also operate to the benefit of the unfairly accused. A lot of accusations come with anger and passion, and the more that is slowed down, the greater chance of the justice system asking itself “Does punishing this person really fit our moral principles, or are we just outraged?” Do not underestimate this.

    2. Any explanation for Trump does kind of have to address the same dude ran in 2012. Why such a different reaction now?

    3. SSC read Trump’s “Art of the Deal” and came to some conclusions about how Trump feels about paperwork, somewhat at odds with you here.

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    • 1. You make a good point. Slow is one thing; expensive is another. Trials shouldn’t be bludgeons.
      2. Not sure, but I think “random chance” has a lot to do with it; 2012 was an incumbent year so the Republicans had little chance of winning, anyway. Trump was probably content to do his publicity stunt and then go back to TV.

      I don’t think he really meant his bid all that seriously this time around, either, but the Republican field was devoid of interesting candidates and with Obama headed out, there are more voters potentially up for grab. I think he just wanted to make some publicity for himself and use his wealth to get some issues on the table that wouldn’t have been there otherwise, but wasn’t expecting to be a serious contender (hence his lack of long-term planning for the campaign.)

      I suspect immigration wouldn’t be such a hot-button issue in the US right now if not for Merkel’s decisions in Europe. American voters were suddenly concerned about the issue right as Repubs were trying to capture the Hispanic vote. Bad combination, and it created a vacuum that Trump snapped up.

      3. I admit, I’m speculating. I have a friend in land development who reminds me a lot, personality-wise, of Trump, and how the regulations/paperwork make his life difficult are one of our frequent conversation topics. Obviously this doesn’t mean Trump cares about paperwork. It just means he might have personal reasons to detest it.

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      • For question 2, I think it is simply the fact that in 2012 the establisment coalesced around a candidate (Romney) while the outsiders (not sure what to call them) backed lots of candidates who represented different wings of the party. In 2016 the establishment succumbed to the paradox of choice and didn’t throw themselves behind someone they wanted (Rubio) in time. Trump stumbled across immigration, probably the issue with the biggest gulf between base and establishment, which allowed him to get a plurality of support. I like Trump but lets say instead of the clowncar of candidates the establishment picked Rubio as their man he probably wins or comes second in Iowa, etc. I’d guess the race looks like 2012 where discontented voters hoist up Trump, Kasich, Carson and Cruz for periods of time to the top but they never get enough support to sink Rubio. Honestly I think this whole mess happened when ¡Jeb! was named heir-apparent bringing all of the Bush baggage, causing challengers to throw their hats into the ring, Bush sucking up the lion share of the funds, etc.

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